Children and Teens Articles

Bringing Mental Health to the Forefront of Education

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Bringing Mental Health to the Forefront of Education

America has been recognizing May as Mental Health Month since 1949. During the month of May, mental health organizations work together with other community members to raise awareness about mental health issues. But the question remains: What else can be done to raise much-needed mental health awareness?

While a month dedicated to mental health is a nice start, it’s a start that occurred in 1949. In any given day, our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, sisters and brothers may be suffering from mental health challenges of which they are unaware. As a result, the nation is in a crisis due to the numerous tragedies occurring in school settings.

In The Wake of a Suicide Epidemic, Inaction Speaks Louder Than Words

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

In The Wake Of A Suicide Epidemic, Inaction Speaks Louder Than Words“It shouldn’t have happened to her.”

“She had so much to live for, she led such a lucky life.”

19-year-old Madison Holleran’s death shocked and frustrated her community. These comments I have heard not only signify a grieving community, but speak volumes toward how little is known about suicide.

While I’m not faulting those who spoke them, I am highlighting the necessity of education about suicide and mental health.

8 Reasons Why Kindness Should Be Taught in Schools

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

8 Reasons Why Kindness Should be Taught in SchoolsMost people have heard the phrase “random acts of kindness,” which refers to a selfless act of giving resulting in another’s happiness. Terms like this are increasing in popularity around the world, as more people identify a deficiency in their lives that can only be fulfilled by altruism.

It seems we just can’t get enough of those addictive, feel-good emotions, and with good reason.

Scientific studies have shown that kindness has a great number of physical and emotional benefits and that children require a healthy dose of warm fuzzies in order to flourish as healthy, happy, well-rounded individuals.

Are You Being Helpful or Annoying?

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Are You Being Helpful or Annoying?Have you ever tried to be helpful but found that others experienced you as annoying? Did you feel resentful that your efforts weren’t appreciated? What did you do wrong?

First, a few scenarios:

The Masks of Trauma

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

The Masks of TraumaSometimes I receive emails from acquaintances I knew in my early years. They usually start by expressing their deep concern for me and what I went through.

Each message like this is healing because validation and concern for my situation was something I desperately needed as a child.

But their next questions are more challenging. “Should I have known?” “How did I miss the signs?” The answer has always eluded me. I really have no response.

Are You Crazy?

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Are You Crazy?As a hypnopsychotherapist, I’m used to working with people who have been experiencing all manner of emotional and psychological difficulties. In fact, there must be very few such difficulties that I haven’t seen and worked with over the years.

Often people tell me that they have tried just about everything in their quest to find a solution to their problem, to put an end to the troubled way they have been feeling and functioning. Some believe that the difficulties they have been struggling with mean they are mentally ill or disordered.

FDA Panel Recommends Banning Rotenberg Child Shock Devices

Friday, April 25th, 2014

FDA Panel Recommends Banning Rotenberg Child Shock DevicesAmerica is one of the few countries where you can provide an electrical shock to a child and still call it “therapy.” Aversive therapy, to be specific.

It is a treatment so out of the mainstream of modern treatment that it is used by only one treatment center in the entire United States, the Judge Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts. It is an inhumane treatment used with little research evidence to support its long-term use or value.

And finally, after its use for decades, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Neurological Devices Panel on Thursday recommended their ban.

Scapegoating ADHD — Because It’s Popular

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Scapegoating ADHD -- Because It's Popular

As if people with a mental illness didn’t have enough to worry about.

One of the favorite media topics to write about is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a potentially serious mental illness that affects millions of Americans. It causes them to not be able to focus on everyday tasks that most of us have little trouble with. Many people with ADHD can’t sit still, interrupt others, and can’t wait their turn. Others find any kind of task that requires sustained attention simply impossible.

In the modern world, with so many devices and services competing for our attention, ADHD is at the heart of a perfect storm for those afflicted. While most of us juggle our attempts at multi-tasking seemingly well, those with untreated ADHD have a hard time just getting started.

So it makes me wonder: why are so many journalists quick to pick on ADHD?

Does Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT) Exist?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Does Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT) Exist?Sluggish cognitive tempo is a long-time component believed to either be a part of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or may be its own stand-alone concern.

Parts of what we now call sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT) has been around since the 1960s, but it was in the late 1980s — long before any attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications existed — when researchers first demonstrated that SCT symptoms are probably a unique condition or sub-type of ADHD (Lahey et al., 1988; Neeper & Lahey, 1986).

In other words, the scientific foundation for sluggish cognitive tempo has been around for nearly 30 years. It’s not new. And it’s hardly news. Scientists regularly identify dozens of proposed syndromes or symptom constellations in their research. Only a tiny minority of them ever go on to become a recognized mental disorder or diagnosis.

But does SCT really exist? Is it its own condition or disorder?

Introducing Addiction Under 30

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Introducing Addiction Under 30

Addiction is a hard thing to overcome, and people from all walks and ages in life struggle with it. But in some ways, it’s especially tragic when a young adult or teenager is dealing with addiction. A teenager’s brain is still under development, and battling addiction can impact their neurological growth and stunt brain connections.

We’re still learning about addiction every day, and so the science of addiction is especially important to consider.

When Unconditional Love Has Conditions

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

When Unconditional Love Has Conditions

I was once working with a group of teenagers discussing “integrity agreements,” which I described as “either spoken or unspoken agreements not to hurt each other.” These integrity agreements are the fabric of our society.

This belief, that we won’t harm each other, is what allows us to walk down the street without worrying about getting shot or intentionally run over. I discussed with the teens how every time we break integrity agreements with each other — every time we cheat, lie, abuse, or harm — we weaken the agreement and create unstable relationships.

Why No One is Talking About the Possible Overdiagnosis of Autism

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Why No One is Talking About the Possible Overdiagnosis of AutismWith the latest CDC figures out, it appears autism is now appearing in about 1 in 68 children in the United States. The disorder — now officially known as autism spectrum disorder — is being diagnosed at a rate that represents a 30 percent increase from 1 in 88 two years ago.

What’s amazing to me is that I couldn’t find a single media report that floated the idea that this increase represents an overdiagnosis of the disorder. While “overdiagnosis” seems to be the first thing suggested when the topic is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder’s (ADHD) huge jump in diagnoses over the past two decades, it’s not mentioned in any description of autism’s increase.

Why the double-standard?

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